kids encyclopedia robot

Superfluidity facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Liquid helium Rollin film
The liquid helium is in the superfluid phase. As long as it remains superfluid, it creeps up the wall of the cup as a thin film. It comes down on the outside, forming a drop which will fall into the liquid below. Another drop will form—and so on—until the cup is empty.

Superfluidity is a very special state of matter where a liquid can act very strangely.

Some of the things a superfluid can do is:

  • It can flow extremely easily. (How easily a liquid can flow is called its viscosity.) In fact, it flows so easily that friction does not change the way it flows; it has zero viscosity. Because of this, it can actually flow out of a container, like a bowl, even when the bowl is not tipped so the liquid can spill out.
  • It stays still when its container is spun, instead of starting a whirlpool like when a sink full of water is drained. However, a whirlpool does form if the container is spun at and above a certain speed.

So far, scientists have only been able to create superfluids at extremely cold temperatures. However, superfluids have quite a few uses in science today, like:

  • Superfluid Helium at -271.4 degrees Celsius [-456.2 degrees Fahrenheit] was used in a special satellite in 1983 to get information on infrared waves in space.
  • Superfluids can be used in gyroscopes, to help machines predict information about gravity movements that can't be picked up with regular instruments only.
  • One kind of superfluid was used to trap and slow down a beam of light from its normal speed of 670,600,000 mph (1,079,000,000 km/h) to only 38.03 mph (62.2 km/h) That means the beam of light was moving at .00000567104 % of its speed in a vacuum.

There is also another state of matter called a supersolid, although how they are formed is more complex.

kids search engine
Superfluidity Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.